A cold green bean salad with a Greek yogurt herb dressing and pickled red onions is a refreshing and clean side dish to have for a summer dinner or over the holidays. Perfect for potlucks, this simple green bean salad recipe can feed a crowd or be sized down for an elegant dinner. Learn when green beans are in season, as well as how to cook and clean them in order to enjoy this green bean side dish.
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Green beans have to be one of my favorite vegetables to eat! They’re sweet, crisp, and good with just about anything. Growing up, my first experiences with green beans were from a can. Which is fine and all but nothing beats fresh green beans.
My family started a vegetable garden when I was younger and one of the vegetables we planted were green beans. I think my dad had planted like 10 beans and even built a trellis for them to climb and grow on. Over the course of the summer, we had so many green beans harvested that our neighbors stopped answering their doors because they didn’t want any more of our green beans.
Green Beans 101
I’m going to give you the quick and simple about green beans before diving into the recipe.
Green beans are a fun pod vegetable that grows during the summer months! They are a vine plant and tend to do well growing up a trellis. Green beans are picked right from the vine (which needs to be trimmed before cooking and eating). They last a few days off of the vine before they develop brown streaks to the pod. They’re still good to eat but will need to be eaten quickly once those streaks show up.
I like to store my green beans in the vegetable drawer in my refrigerator to keep them crisp. Before cooking, I trim the green bean right at the part where the bean was attached to the vine. The curly-q at the opposite end does not need to be trimmed.
Why Do You Blanch Green Beans (Or Any Vegetable, Really)
If you are wanting to use this green bean salad recipe for a holiday side dish, you could do one of two things:
- Buy the green beans when you need them, thanks to commercial farming,
- Buy or harvest green beans in the summer when they are at their nutritional peak.
If you would like to learn more about the importance of eating foods within their seasons, or what that even means, be sure to read this post here!
If you opt to grow or buy green beans and then make this dish for the holidays, you’re going to need to freeze your beans. And it’s more than just tossing the plastic grocery bag in the freezer.
Blanching and shocking green beans, and all vegetables, is important in keeping the integrity of the cell walls within vegetables. Freezing vegetables before blanching and shocking would result in super limp and soggy veggies upon thawing.
Blanching and shocking vegetables help keep the veggies somewhat firm after thawing.
If you’re making this cold green bean salad during the summer, you still blanch and shock.
To get the green beans to have a good mouthfeel, I do a blanch and shock to them to soften them up a bit. Be careful though, it’s easy to overcook them if you don’t catch them soon enough. I find cooking them 3-5 minutes to be perfect to get the texture I want.
You can eat green beans raw, but it is a textural thing. Plus, I find that blanched and shocked green beans have a more gorgeous saturated color than raw green beans.
Cold Green Bean Salad
Fresh green beans are the way to go! I find that pairing them with some Greek yogurt and pickled red onion elevates a humble green bean into something super delicious and gourmet.
This cold green bean salad is perfect for summer BBQ’s, outdoor picnics, elegant dinners, and even the holidays! What makes this green bean salad so perfect for these occasions is that while it’s a relatively simple dish, it’s complex in flavor in order to keep it interesting.
I said in an earlier post about how I wish dill was used a bit more often because the crisp, lemon taste is super refreshing to whatever it’s paired with. I also feel that tarragon is a wonderful herb that is hardly ever used but it pairs so well in this salad.
Pickled Red Onions
These pickled red onions? This is where it’s at! The tang they get from the vinegar and the sweetness from the red onions themselves make them super versatile! Use them in this salad or on a nice steak sandwich. They’re super easy to make as you’ll see in the instructions but I love them oh so much! And they keep for a good while too. Read more about why Pickled Red Onions are the bomb dot com here.
I suggest making the pickled red onions a day before. You want the onions to pickle fully to get the right flavor that pickling can lend (of course, if you let them pickle for longer, the flavor develops more). If the onions don’t pickle for at least a day, they will still be crunchy and still have a strong onion taste to them.
A note about technique for slicing the red onions. I have done them by hand but when you are pickling a product, it’s is super important that you cut everything evenly to ensure everything pickles at the same rate. I highly recommend using a mandolin like this one to ensure the onion is cut into even slices!
Again, don’t limit this recipe to the holidays (though this will be a hit!) this could go nicely with all my summer recipes, especially that Moroccan BBQ Sauce. Yum, yum! Or even a nice pieced of seared salmon!
Green Bean Salad Dressing
This green bean salad dressing was a bit of a doozy to develop but I was inspired when I saw a recipe video from Jamie Oliver about his healthy take on Caesar Dressing.
Plain Greek yogurt is always so hard for me to work with because it always has that weird aftertaste that is just so unpleasant. I learned from Jamie that adding just a bit of Dijon mustard does the trick. And he was so right!
Adding minced shallots to this dressing really adds a nice sharpness that is needed. Along with all of the herbs, I love adding lemon zest to really freshen up this dressing!
I also opted to add some olive oil to this green bean salad dressing just to help give it more body and coat the green beans better.
I hope you find this healthy salad to be delicious enough to share with your friends and family. Try out the recipe, then leave a comment, along with a rating, to tell me all about it!
This salad would also be great for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas! Be sure to check out this other post of 20+ Unique and Gourmet Holiday Side Dishes20+ Unique and Gourmet Holiday Side Dishes to get your creative juices going!
Pickled Red Onions
Pickled Red Onion
Nutrition InformationYield 4
Serving Size 4 ounces
Amount Per ServingCalories 297 Total Fat 14g Saturated Fat 2g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 12g Cholesterol 3mg Sodium 7282mg Carbohydrates 36g Fiber 3g Sugar 30g Protein 8g